viernes, agosto 28, 2009
Miniatura románica. Una entrevista con Robert Maxwell. - Romanesque miniature. An interview with Robert Maxwell.
Como ya habíamos avanzado, el profesor asociado de la Universidad de Pennsylvania, Robert A. Maxwell, investigador que ha realizado una estancia en el ACS para interesarse por la miniatura del siglo XII, ha respondido amablemente a varias cuestiones que le hemos realizado. Como podréis leer, nos ha proporcionado una interesante información y perspectiva acerca de su trabajo y, más concretamente, de la miniatura y códices medievales. A continuación ofrecemos la breve entrevista, inaugurando un nuevo formato y contenido en Archivium. El texto se encuentra en inglés, pero esperamos poder ofrecer una traducción en breve; por ahora, aquí va la entrevista original.
Mr. Robert A. Maxwell (University of Pennsylvania), we are very pleased to talk with you and that you have agreed to answer some questions about your research. Please describe for us your current project. My current book project is titled Art Inventing History: Picturing the Living Past in the Middle Ages. It aims to offer a broad examination of historical manuscript illustration in the Romanesque and Early Gothic periods. It is well known that in the twelfth century, various types of historical writing flourished at an unprecedented level—chronicles, family genealogies, cartularies, heroic and historicizing epics, and even written accounts of fantastic myths and legends. Occasionally cartularies and chronicles were even illuminated, yet with a few notable exceptions (e.g., Codex Calixtinus, Mont-Saint-Michel Cartulary), these historical works have never garnered much interest from art historians. This is understandable since they contain primarily annalistic texts and legal records, where one might not expect the illustrations to be of much significance. Contrary to expectations, however, the illuminations reveal complex relations to the texts. I hope that the study of these manuscripts (some of which are unpublished) should shed light on the crucial role of images in shaping historical writing and historical perception in the High Middle Ages. Which is the relationship of this project to the sources at Santiago de Compostela? My study of these manuscripts began on a handful of French examples (see “Sealing Signs and the Art of Transcribing in the Vierzon Cartulary,” Art Bulletin, 81, 1999, 576-97), but subsequent research has led me throughout Europe. At Santiago de Compostela, I am interested in two works primarily, the Codex Calixtinus and the Tumbo A, as they represent the Galician interest for illuminating history—history which is, for the one manuscript, “historical” but also legendary, liturgical, and hagiographical, and, for the other, legal and notarial. The Tumbo B comes into play a little in my research, even though it is a thirteenth-century manuscript; it nonetheless demonstrates something of the continuity in the region for illuminating notarial-legal texts. From your point of view, what do believe to have been the role of the miniatures in medieval Galicia? When viewed all together, these illuminated manuscripts can be seen in relation to other works from the kingdom of Castile-León as part of the ideology of the kingdom’s rulers and ecclesiastical elite. Together, they create a powerful picture of the role of history and historical imagination in the twelfth-century political culture of northwestern Spain. You made a research stay at the Archive of the Cathedral of Santiago; what was the main reason for this research trip? Over the past few years I have been visiting various archives and libraries in Spain to track down diverse kinds of illuminated historical manuscripts, research which has taken me to Catalonia, then Aragon, and now Galicia. For each trip, I have had specific questions about certain manuscripts, which was the case at Santiago. But in some cases, I have been surprised to discover unpublished manuscripts and charters that are useful to my project. Each of my trips has led to some surprises. At the Archivo, I was primarily interested in the Codex Calixtinus and the Tumbo A. The major illuminations from each have been published previously, but I wanted to look closely at all of the illuminations and also get a sense for the whole book. The sense of the manuscript’s integrity—its wholeness, size, quality of parchment, ruling, layout—plays a role, I think, in the importance of an illuminated cartulary, of the kinds of messages that its collection of texts and images were meant to convey. Handling the originals also allows one examine closely the painting style and its quality. Photographic reproductions can tell you a lot about an illumination, but they rarely can convey the quality of the painting. And quality is crucial issue for a cartulary: why create a lavish, high-quality manuscript of legal notices? First-hand visits also produce other pleasant surprises: Making your acquaintance, Xosé Manuel Sánchez, was also a wonderful pleasure, since you were able to inform me about your work on Rocha Forte and the possible iconographic relations with the Tumbo B. Of all the funds consulted and investigated, which has been the most relevant thing that you found for the proposed investigation? For one, I discovered that the quality of the Tumbo A illuminations was better than the reproductions lead one to believe. (It is simply a pity that some of the illustrations were “restored” earlier in the century.) The illustration program of the Tumbo A also presented me with a few new questions, which I still need to work out. As for the Codex Calixtinus, I was able to see some of the codicological traits that Diaz y Diaz signals in his important book on the manuscript. At the same time, I can’t agree with his dating, at least as far as the illuminations are concerned. There has obviously been a great deal of scholarly discussion on that question, as well as on the origins of its painting style. I still believe that the artist was trained in western or west-central France (Loire Valley, southern Normandy), but seeing the color palette first-hand and observing the construction of some of the illuminated initials has given me some things to think about. Mr. Maxwell, thanks for your attention and for your interesting answers, collaborating with this blog and the ADM-ACS. Thank you.